Mistakes companies make when hiring their next Sales Superstar

When faced with declining sales and missed targets, many companies opt to hire a “sales superstar”, one whom will do the wonders and rev up sales single-handedly.  Unfortunately, most companies almost always end up with mediocre results at best, and sheer disappointment in most cases.

In fact, the notion of trying to hire a “sales superstar” is a mistake itself.  Here’s why:

The Elusive Sales Superstar

Usually, the term “sales superstar” refers to an ultra-aggressive sales person who simply doesn’t take “no” for an answer, and is just fantastic in generating great sales results real quick.  This kind of sales person represents only about 1-2% of the entire sales population.

As such they are very difficult to find.  But finding them is just the beginning of more challenges.  You will face issues such as:

  1. Sales superstars are highly paid individuals, and to entice them to work for you will mean you will have to pay even more, for both fixed and variable pays;
  2. Most sales superstars are currently happily making money with their current employers, and hence that means you will have to proactively reach out to them.  The usual employment ads won’t work, and even most headhunters don’t go around poaching candidates.  In worse scenarios, you get candidates who claim to be sales superstars, but are far from it;
  3. The sales superstar you hire may or may not fit into the way you sell, or into your company culture.  If that happens, and it quite frequently does, you simply end up with a very expensive dud!

Even when you hire THE sales superstar who’s producing good results for you, you’ll still face 2 possibilities:

    1. Despite your sales superstar’s Herculean effort, you still are not able to stem the tide of declining sales;
    2. Due to your sales superstar’s good efforts, you have now seen sales increasing as a result.

Most companies who have hired a sales superstar will eventually find that to increase sales and profits on more sustained basis, you will need a lot more than an individual’s effort, and thus diminishing the sales superstar’s impact on the bottom line.

However, it is the 2nd consequence that poses the most danger to the company.  If you have one sales person who can single-handedly turn the tide for you, then you may have a situation where a significant amount of sales are held in the hands of just one person.  If that is the case, your company may be taken hostage by this individual easily, i.e. whatever he/ she demands, you’ll have to oblige, or else he/ she will just bring all your major customers to the competitor.

Why Not Build a High-Performing Sales Team Instead

Rather than hoping to find a saviour in the form of a sales superstar, what companies can do is to make sure that all sales persons hired are first equipped and then trained in the skills that make them good sales people in your unique sales culture.

While you are highly unlikely to groom sales superstars in your own company, you may actually build a team that collectively produces much more than a superstar ever will.  Here’s how it works:

  1. Compare the best performing sales person(s) with the rest (the middle and worst performing) in your company.  Find out what are the qualities or behaviours that are ONLY present in the best people, which the rest are not doing;
  2. Structure the interview processes where you look for past performance whereby the candidate has demonstrated such ideal qualities or behaviours;
  3. If the qualities or behaviours can be learnt, structure your sales training such that everyone on your team can learn and internalise them.

In doing so, while you may not have sales superstars eventually, you will get a team of sales people who are performing well above average.

Article by:
CJ Ng
Executive Director, Directions Consulting